*Thanks to Regan Walker for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a review*
England and France 1784
Cast out by his noble father for marrying the woman he loved, Jean Donet took to the sea, becoming a smuggler, delivering French brandy and tea to the south coast of England. When his young wife died, he nearly lost his sanity. In time, he became a pirate and then a privateer, vowing to never again risk his heart.
As Donet’s wealth grew, so grew his fame as a daring ship’s captain, the terror of the English Channel in the American War. When his father and older brother die in a carriage accident in France, Jean becomes the comte de Saintonge, a title he never wanted.
Lady Joanna West cares little for London Society, which considers her its darling. Marriage in the ton is either dull or disastrous. She wants no part of it. To help the poor in Sussex, she joins in their smuggling. Now she is the master of the beach, risking her reputation and her life. One night off the coast of Bognor, Joanna encounters the menacing captain of a smuggling ship, never realizing he is the mysterious comte de Saintonge.
Can Donet resist the English vixen who entices him as no other woman? Will Lady Joanna risk all for an uncertain chance at love in the arms of the dashing Jean Donet?
Regan Walker has to be one of my favourite authors in the historical fiction genre. Her writing takes you to another time and place, with beautiful settings and characters that capture the imagination.
From fearsome Medieval warriors with hearts of gold to dashing Georgian pirates, Regan excels in creating memorable fictional heroes. Jean Donet may well be her best yet - or at least my personal favourite. Part sea captain part nobleman, he's the perfect gentleman with an intense and dangerous streak. Ruthless with those who cross him he has a reputation across the continent, yet he has a passionate soul and would protect those he loves with his life.
Then of course there are the unconventional female characters. Always feisty and independent, Regan's women are a force to be reckoned with. On the first page of Echo in the Wind we are introduced to Lady Joanna West, a high born lady moonlighting as a male smuggler! Unbeknownst to her, the dark and mysterious captain providing the goods is none other than Jean Donet, who sees right through her disguise.
Joanna is reluctant to marry into the ton, fearing a life of boredom and an unfaithful husband. She is perfectly content to remain a spinster smuggler, until Donet turns her world upside down. The two characters were wonderfully matched - they had chemistry from their very first meeting and I loved how the story was told from both of their perspectives. As in Regan's other works, even the secondary characters in this story are well-defined, making the fictional world they inhabit all the more three dimensional. I particularly liked Jean's quartermaster Emile and would love to find out more about him.
The historical details in this novel have been impeccably researched. It was a time of uncertainty, and with the chapters set in Paris you can almost feel the undercurrent of the impending French revolution. Regan says in her author's notes that she hopes readers will feel as if they have travelled back in time while reading Echo in the Wind, and I most certainly did. From the rugged English coast to the opulence of Versailles I was transported utterly into Jean and Joanna's world, and I didn't want to leave. I was very pleased to read therefore, that there will be another novel in the Donet series - the story of Jean's ward Zoe. I can only hope and assume that Joanna and Jean will make an appearance, as there is certainly more to come from them!
Full of passion, danger and adventure Echo in the Wind is a novel of seizing life, and love, and following your heart.